Wolverines’ spirited second half brings win over Bearcats

Published 9:02 am Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Whatever Coach Craig Culbreth told his team at halftime on Friday worked. Polk’s women’s basketball team roared back from a 15-7 deficit to outscore Hendersonville 47-7 in the second half, trouncing the visiting Bearcats, 54-22.

Polk’s Sarah Phipps pulls down one of her 12 rebounds in the Wolverines’ 54-22 win over Hendersonville on Friday evening, Jan. 17.

Polk’s Sarah Phipps pulls down one of her 12 rebounds in the Wolverines’ 54-22 win over Hendersonville on Friday evening, Jan. 17.

The Polk varsity squad struggled in the first half, but in the second half they bounced back. They held onto the basketball and shot the lights out over the final 16 minutes.

What transpired off the court between halves?

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“One of those coach-player heart-to-hearts,” said Culbreth, whose team improved to 8-5 overall and 2-3 in the conference with its third consecutive win. “They picked it up and took better shots.”

“When we play together, we’re pretty good,” Culbreth said. “It didn’t hurt that their best player (Lakerrion Lammons) was hurt (aggravating an obviously painful ankle injury in the second half).”

Culbreth said his players needed to learn to trust each other.

“Our last practice was all shooting,” he said. “We have been doing a lot of shooting (in practice).”

In Friday’s turnaround second half, “We quit walking up and down the floor, and started running up and down the floor,” Culbreth said.

In addition, Wolverine passes were crisp and accurate, unlike in the first half, when so many were intercepted by eager Bearcat players. Polk stole a number of Hendersonville passes in the first half, but simply couldn’t capitalize. One might wonder if the net at that end of the floor wore a sign warning, “Do not enter.”

It all changed in the third quarter. With just over a minute gone in that period, Haley Kropp found the net, to trim the Bearcats’ lead to 17-12. Kropp, who led all scores with 23 points, surged in the second half. She also recorded five steals and four assists. A bucket by Sarah Phipps (eight points, 12 rebounds) with 6:23 to go in the third made it 17-14. Soon after, Lyric Flood added a two-point shot to tie the game at 17. Kropp’s two-for-two visit to the free-throw line put the Wolverines up 19-17, and they kept pouring it on.

After three quarters, Polk led 33-19, and went on to outscore the visitors, 21-3 in the final quarter. Ashley Love added 11 points for the winners.

Today, Tuesday, Jan. 21, they host Madison, and on Friday, Jan. 24, the Wolverines visit Mountain Heritage. On Jan. 28, Mitchell visits Polk.